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Questionnaire : Types, Examples & How to design

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When conducting any type of research or gathering feedback, the most important part is that of asking questions. If you want really good insights or want to know how exactly people feel about a product, or what changes need to be made to make your place more employee friendly, you should be asking the right questions. The set of questions that a researcher or an organization prepares to conduct any kind of a study is called  a questionnaire. A questionnaire should be prepared in such a manner that the questions elicit a proper response from the people. People shouldn’t feel uncomfortable or repetitive while answering them. A well prepared questionnaire greatly contributes to getting excellent insights and feedback which leads to a successful survey or research program.

What is a Questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a set or collection of questions that are used to gather information, opinion, and review responders. They are a quick, economic and efficient way of obtaining information on a large scale. From a business perspective, a questionnaire is a tool used to understand the needs of or gather feedback from customers, employees or clients. Questionnaires can be implemented online, via phones or offline in a face to face manner. Questionnaires usually contain a mix of open and close-ended questions. Depending on the type of question, the data can be qualitative or quantitative in nature. Close-ended questions provide specific and direct answers, while open-ended questions lead to more elaborate and diverse responses.

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Difference between a survey and a questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a component, an instrument used in the process of data collection. While on the other hand, a survey is the entire process of data collection involved in a research or feedback study. The questionnaire is like a subset of a survey. Thus, it can be said that a questionnaire is a part of a survey.

Examples of Questionnaire

It is clear that questionnaires can help understand your audience. Now, let’s take a look at some examples to understand how this works.

Customer Satisfaction

A questionnaire of this nature is better used to interact with your target audience. This can help you understand how satisfied your customers are with the service provided. You can also use it to know more about customer preference based on the products advertised by your company. This helps in improving customer experience.

For example

  • How satisfied are you with our customer service?
    • Extremely satisfied
    • Somewhat satisfied
    • Neutral
    • Somewhat dissatisfied
    • Extremely dissatisfied
  • How likely are you to recommend our service?
    • 1- Extremely unlikely 
    • 10- Extremely likely
  • How do you suggest we improve our service for your experience? (Optional) 

A customer satisfaction questionnaire is concise and effective. You can limit the number of questions which will save time for the audience. With a busy schedule, people may not respond to a questionnaire with too many questions. 

You can also add open-ended questions at the end as optional while keeping the main questions as close-ended. 


Questionnaires based on the psychological need of students or even employees can give you better insight into their minds working. 

For example

  • I am unable to understand a lesson because I am easily distracted, daydreaming or anxious.
    • Not true
    • Rarely true
    • Sometimes true
    • Always true

These questions are different from the customer satisfaction or experience questionnaire. This type of questionnaire can help you sort out how to help those students or employees in the future.

Company Evaluation

This type of questionnaire can be used to evaluate how your clients feel about your company. While also analyzing how your employees feel about new policies adopted by the company. For example

  • How was your experience working with our teams?
    • Extremely difficult
    • Somewhat difficult
    • Neutral
    • Somewhat easy
    • Extremely easy
  • Which team would you like to work with in the future? (Optional)

NPS® – Net Promoter Score®

  • These are one of the most popular ones used by companies to get a measure of customer loyalty or experience. 
  • It involves asking respondents if they would recommend a particular brand or product to people, on a scale of 1 to 10. “ On a scale of 1 – 10 how likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend/family/acquaintance?
  • A score of 8-10 indicates promoters – customers who had a great experience and would happily recommend your brand/product to someone else. 
  • A score of 0 to 5 indicates customers who were not satisfied and wouldn’t recommend the particular product/brand.

Event Questionnaires

These are made either before or after an event. When made before an event, they generally aim at taking the general view of the people as to where the event should be held, what dates they would be comfortable with, suggestions for the menu, venue etc. When conducted after an event, they are usually constructed in the form of feedback forms to get the general feedback of the event and invite suggestions from the audience for future improvement.

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Types of Questionnaires

Exploratory –

They are also called Exploratory Questionnaires because these questions are mostly open-ended. They are also qualitative in nature. The responders are given the freedom to put forth their opinion. The questions as well do not limit the response. For instance, asking your audience which product they like the most. The response will be ideal for future products. 

Structured Questions –

These questionnaires are also known as Formal Standardized Questionnaires. They are quantitative in nature, that is, they associate a numerical value to the attributes of the research or survey. A structured questionnaire is better used when you have a hypothesis and you want to analyze it by gathering data. This will help you narrow down your options and give specific information.

Based on Distribution

In terms of distribution, questionnaires can be classified as online, telephonic, mail, offline etc depending on how they are distributed to the respondents.

Questions used in Questionnaire

Open-ended Question –

Such questions can help you collect detailed and qualitative responses from the audience. The responder has the freedom to answer however they want without any limitation. 

Close-ended Questions –

These are also known as Dichotomous Questions. An example of this would be yes/no questions. 

Multiple-choice Question –

These are generally close-ended questions but the responders have the option of selecting more than one option. You can limit the number of choices they can select.You can also add the option of “other” if it is not possible to add all the options.

For example,

  • What sport do you like to play?

    • Cricket

    • Badminton

    • Football

    • Volleyball

    • Other

Scaled Question – Likert Scale, Rating Scale, Semantic differential scale are some examples of such questions. These questions are based on the Four Level of Measurement, that is, Nominal, Ordinal, Interval, and Ratio scale. 

Pictorial Question – Instead of text or words these questions use images representing the options. Such questions can help the responder choose quickly. Additionally, the questions can be asked to anyone no matter what language because they only have to identify the image.

For example, asking the audience what social media they use the most with the icons of the social media in option.

Questions not to ask in a Questionnaire

Personal questions

Unless and until it is a study dealing with personal or sensitive issues, questions that delve too deep into someone’s life should be avoided. People are not comfortable divulging sensitive information and even one of these questions can impact their overall attitude towards the questionnaire.

Biased Questions

Sometimes, questions have subtle bias in them. When the respondent reads/hears them, he automatically develops an inclination – either positive or negative – which is desired in the question. Such questions should be avoided as they lead to clouded responses which ultimately affects the results of the study. 

How to design an effective Questionnaire?

Clarity in the Topic of research

  • It is important that you establish what your research purpose is. The questionnaire depends on the topic you want to research on which could be improving customer experience or understanding the target market. Once the purpose is determined you can then design your questionnaire with the type of question that will serve the purpose. 

Use Simple questions

  • The questions should be clear enough for the respondent to understand. If the respondent can’t understand your question they may be reluctant to answer or may simply choose any answer.
  • Moreover, you should form the questions in an easy-to-understand language. Refrain from using technical jargon or grandiose words. 

Maintain a clear flow of the questions

  • Your questions should be logically ordered. Start with short questions to get to know your audience – you can start with basics like the age, gender, name etc of the respondent. Never start with questions that would take time to answer. Such questions must always be placed in the middle of the surveys. 
  • You can then move onto the audience satisfaction and experience of your product and services. Finally, ask questions aimed at customer’s opinions and reviews. 
  • End it with an open-ended question for an elaborate response. You can also ask people to add suggestions/ criticisms from their end.

Know your Target Audience

  • The audience plays an important role in the success or failure of any business. It is essential you know what your target audience’s needs are. Additionally, you should know what language your target audience speaks. 
  • For instance, you cannot target an English-speaking audience by sending them a survey in Chinese. 

Check the Length of the Questionnaire

  • A questionnaire shouldn’t be too long. A standard number of questions (10, 15 etc) should be maintained in order to get good completion rates. Numbers like 5, 10 have psychological importance and thus that should be taken into account as well.
  • At the same time, the questionnaire shouldn’t be very short as well. Information capture shouldn’t be compromised for the length of the survey.


  • A questionnaire whether used for online or offline research should be laid out in a design that is clear enough to understand and navigate by the audience. If the layout is difficult for the audience to understand they may deter from responding.
  • The aesthetics too, must be pleasing to the respondents and not discourage them from completion.

How to Reach your Audience

Online –

Online surveys utilise various channels which are used by the audience to send questionnaires. This way of the survey is cost-effective and also saves time. With the leisure to reply anytime, the audience may respond according to their own schedule. 

Telephone –

A phone call to the responder is a quick and direct way to collect data. However, it is expensive and the responder may be reluctant to give much information. Also, the sample size of your data is limited to another form of surveys.

In-person –

This type of research is usually used by researchers who meet the responder in their workplace or home. In the comfort of one’s natural environment, a person may provide the required information. However, it is a slow process and also expensive because of all the traveling you would have to do.

Mail –

Although mails are not used anymore, some market research tools still use this medium. The responder receives a physical copy of the questionnaire which they are asked to fill out and send back. However, the issue with this method is that it is expensive for a researcher as well as the responder. The responder also may choose to ignore it because it is time-consuming. 

Advantages of Questionnaire

Large audience and data

  • You can reach a large audience if you choose the appropriate platform for the research. Also, it helps a large quantity of data in less time.
  • You can just put the survey on your website, app, or send it via email or post it. There is no limit to the number of responders in an online survey. Therefore, you can receive a huge amount of responses.

Easy to analyze

  • Most questionnaires are quantitative which allows ranking and categorizing the responses. It is easy and fast to analyze the answer. This is even more beneficial when you have a large audience. 
  • You can quickly understand the needs of the target audience especially in an online survey that offers you all the features to make the user experience easy.


  • Responders can remain anonymous in a survey. This characteristic of the questionnaire helps the responders answer more truthfully and thoroughly. A responder answering with honesty is beneficial especially when it comes to feedback by customers or employees.
  • This leads to good insights which finally contribute to constructive and useful changes.


Online survey gives you the option to customize your questions and layout. You can reflect your brand image. The features provided can offer you designs to use in your survey along with tools for easy analysis and calculations.

Disadvantages of Questionnaire

Unanswered survey

  • In many cases, the responders may drop the survey halfway or skip questions if they don’t understand or if it takes a lot of time. The audience may also choose to not respond to the e-mail or skip the online survey. 

Wrong interpretation

  • If the language of the question is not clear enough, the responder may not understand or interpret it incorrectly. This may lead to wrong answers or they may skip the question and refuse to take the survey. 
  • Using technical jargon or words with multiple meanings may create ambiguity. It is better to keep the questions simple.

Repetitive questionnaire

  • The use of surveys is increasing day by day. Every company is sending out surveys to collect data and the audience can’t respond to all of them. 
  • The audience may choose to skip your survey if they find it similar to the ones they have already responded to. It is better to add some personality to your survey. Try to not use the generic pattern or the questions. 

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